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Stephen Hamil

The right tools

Dr Stephen Hamil says the BIM Toolkit can help deliver the required school places more efficiently

Posted by Stephanie Broad | January 09, 2016 | People, policy, politics, money

In line with the rest of the construction industry, the education sector is being challenged by central Government to deliver faster and more efficiently, at a lower cost and more sustainably. In the Government’s spending review in November 2015, £23 billion of capital investment was announced to open 500 free schools, provide over 600,000 additional school places, rebuild and refurbish over 500 schools and address essential maintenance needs. To deliver this over the course of this Parliament will require increased efficiencies across the construction industry.

The mandate for the use of Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) comes into force in 2016 and NBS was awarded the contract to develop the BIM Toolkit, a digital plan of work and unified classification system that completes the Level 2 ‘suite’. Having moved out of its BETA phase at the end of September, the Toolkit is now up and running for use across the construction industry.

In summary, the Toolkit offers:

  • An online digital plan of work tool that models project participants, roles, stages, tasks and deliverables.
  • A reference library of more than 5,700 construction definition templates covering all sectors of the industry including extensive education content.
  • A new unified classification system covering all sectors of the industry and items of all scale from facilities to products.
  • An API that allows software developers to work with the data schemas and the content inside the reference library.
  • A responsive delivery website that is designed to work on all platforms – from mobile phone up to a wide-screen desktop device.

What this means in practice is that the Toolkit provides a valuable tool for procuring and sharing information amongst the design team, aiming to remove the ‘siloes’ that have existed for many years between disciplines and work stages.

By creating clarity around roles and responsibilities and who is providing what information and when, it makes a positive contribution to collaborative working, which in turn leads to shortening project times and enabling simpler coordination between teams. 

Furthermore, the information gathered during the design and construction phases provide an invaluable tool for the operation, management and maintenance of the finished buildings.

A sample definition library

At the heart of the digital plan of work is the ability to integrate the Employers’ Information Requirements (that consider the procurement of digital information in addition to the procurement of the physical asset) and the ‘plain language questions’ that are defined at each stage of the project. At each stage the responsibility for provision of information, along with the Level of Information and Level of Detail required is made clear, reducing potential conflict and giving project team members the ability to focus purely on what they need to deliver, creating greater efficiency.

As the project progresses the information requirements will grow and the project team can define these more precisely by referring to the comprehensive online reference guide for levels of definition and levels of information for modelled deliverables. This allows documentation such as design responsibility matrices to be produced with real clarity and for clients to understand exactly who is delivering what and when

Another benefit of the NBS BIM Toolkit applies to manufacturers that supply products into the education sector. They have an opportunity to structure their data to meet the designer and specifier’s requirements and connect with them through product placement within the tool.

The NBS BIM Toolkit has generated huge interest since its initial release in April 2015. In excess of 3,000 projects having been created and more than 19,000 visitors from over 140 different countries going online to see how they can benefit. NBS will continue to develop it, adding information and further enhancements in response to industry feedback.

Dr Stephen Hamil is NBS Director of Design and Innovation and BIM Toolkit Project Lead:




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